Threshers no problem for Tigers in home debut

STORY BY RAEGAN NEUFELD
PHOTOS BY MADISON SHAPLAND

The Fort Hays men’s basketball team put on an offensive show in their home opener of the 2022-23 season, defeating the Bethel College Threshers 90-59.

After scoring just 15 points in the first ten minutes of the game, the Tigers (2-1) got the ball rolling on offense and made stops defensively en route to a 43-20 lead at halftime. The offense was even better for FHSU after the break, scoring 47 points on 53.6 percent shooting. 

“It was nice to see some guys start making some shots,” said Head Coach Mark Johnson. “Last weekend, we struggled shooting the ball, but Jaheim Holden really got us going. He had 15 points [in the first half], and then Elijah [Nnanabu] made a couple shots on top of that. I thought the last ten minutes of the first half we were really, really good.”

Of FHSU’s 90 points, 48 came from their bench – including 21 from Holden – who led all scorers. Behind him were Nnanabu with 19 points and Kaleb Hammeke with 13. Nnanabu led the team in rebounds with seven.

This is Holden’s first year in the program, who is a transfer student from Tarleton State University.

“It’s been a major adjustment,” Holden said. “But playing with guys like Kaleb, Elijah, all those guys, they push me every day to be better. We compete every day in practice, so when we get out here and compete together, it’s really easy.”

As a team, the Tigers shot 51.7 percent overall, 52.9 percent from three-point range and 87.5 percent from the free-throw line. They also grabbed 37 rebounds and scored 24 points off of 18 Thresher turnovers. Bethel fared worse in each scoring category, shooting 35.3 percent overall, 33.3 percent from three-point range and 72.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Johnson was pleased with his team’s performance, commenting on the balanced scoring he saw in the game.

“We’re going to have to do it more by committee,” he said. “Last year, our fourth-leading scorer only averaged four points a game. We feel like this year, it’s not going to be one guy getting 18 points, like Jared [Vitztum] did a year ago. We’re hoping five or six guys can contribute on a nightly basis, and that five or six might be different guys every night.”

The Tigers will play their next five games at home in Gross Memorial Coliseum. The next one up is a contest with Metropolitan State University of Denver on Sunday, beginning at 2:00 p.m.

Elijah Nnanabu making a pass during the match up. “It felt good to be on our home court,” said Nnanabu. “There’s really nothing like Hays KS and the support we receive.”
Treajon Davis works to sneak in behind Bethel Threshers and slams the ball through the hoop.
Kaleb Hammeke drives past defenders and finds Iyen Enaruna on the opposite block.
Iyen Enaruna receives the pass and knocks down a contested shot in Thresher territory.
Haggan Hilgendorf comes in with a wide-open 3 during the game.
The cheerleaders hit the court this Thursday to begin their winter season.
Jaheim Holden carries the ball past half court and starts the offense for the tigers. “Personally, I felt more confident coming into this game from last weekend. My coach and team needed to play more confidently, and finding this confidence gave me the ability to knockdown shots tonight,” said Holden.
Hammeke sneaks a quick look at teammate while driving before handing off the ball.
Geoff Hamperian works his way into the paint and secures a foul and two free throws on the play.
Sky rocketing over opponents, Nnanabu puts up a 2 pointer near the goal. “How hard we work makes it worth giving our all when we step in the coliseum. Basketball is fun, this was a fun first home game for me,” Nnanabu said.
Davis explodes past Bethel trying to create a play for the offensive tigers.
Head coach Mark Johnson speaks with the team during a timeout.
Hammeke lunges towards the rim, securing 2 points for the tigers.
Holden keeps his eyes on the rim as pulls up for a 10-footer. “Going out and being aggressive, knowing our assignments, playing together, knowing our roles, and making the right plays were key to our win tonight,” said Holden.
Enaruna maneuvers past not only one defender, but 3 Threshers for an open layup.
Gilbert Peters lays another 2 pointer up for the tigers, giving them 31 points over the Threshers. The final score of the night was 90-59.

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